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Play Online Poker - Rules and Strategies for Online Poker

Picture of online pokerWhy Play Online Poker?

I have not played much online poker - and yet after a few months' experience, already I manage to win about $10/hour on average, not including the profit I made from deposit bonuses. I would not be able to do this offline. This is because I play only online poker, and using these advantages:

1. Low overhead. Much lower rakes, no travel costs, no restaurant bills, no tipping.

2. Low minimums. In offline poker, the lowest minimum generally is $5, and even this is not feasible because of the high rake. Whereas in online poker, you can start at 25¢ or even 10¢, and work your way up gradually.

3. Low stress. Hazing is still there but is much easier to ignore in online poker. Also there are no "tells," no need to freeze your face. If you like, you even can take notes and read your cards aloud.

4. Table-hopping. Whenever overmatched in online poker, you can change tables or even casinos without a long waiting line. Or just sign off and try again later.

5. Higher playing speeds. Online poker is much faster. This means that you can win more per hour at lower levels.

Basic Resources for Online Poker Players

Poker guides may not be necessary-experience is what counts most. If however you are a rank beginner or want the best possible game, here is all you really need.

1. Winning Low Limit Hold'em by Lee Jones.
2. Turbo Texas Hold'em by Wilson Software.

What Poker Games to Play?

I would avoid online poker Stud games because there are relatively few online players, so you have little chance to seek out a winnable table. Success is easier in the following games.

1. Low Limit Hold'em. This is by far the most popular game and the best place to start. Just start cruising various online casinos with a minimum deposit-leave any table as soon as you seem to be losing-and play more wherever you tend to win.

2. Single-table Hold'em tournaments. This is not for everyone, because only the first three players win, the rest lose everything, and there is a lot of luck involved at the end. However those who have the feel for it can be regular winners. (Never mind multi-table tournaments, however-your chances of winning in those are rare.)

3. No Limit and Pot Limit Hold'em. This is increasingly popular, with good reason-after a while, limit Hold'em can be a bore. However the trick is to find an online poker room where you can play with a modest stake, and frequently see the flop without having to bet everything. Usually the play is quite wild-but at some tables, everyone folds often against any show of determination. This can allow you to bluff successfully even with small bets, for a huge profit/risk ratio.

4. No Limit and Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo. Don't ask me how to play Omaha Hi-Low-I tried it a few times and lost my shirt. In the process however, it seemed evident that for those who do learn Hi-Low properly, there is a steady stream of "that looks like fun" players like me just asking to be fleeced.


Picture of poker rules being brokenStrategy Tips for Online Poker Beginners

Here are my ways of taking advantage of the little tricks that most online poker players eventually learn, and which you might as well learn as soon as possible. My tactics suggested here probably are not very professional-they are over-cautious, to be sure. However the goal of the beginner is not to win the most in the long term, but only to win and to do so steadily.

1. Taking advantage of position in online poker. It is not enough to "have good position." You also must take advantage of a late position in online poker, by semi-bluffing when you have some chance both to win and also to fold the table. Conversely however, also look out for the over-bluffer. Then just wait until you have a killer hand-play possum while he bluffs away-and then, wham.

2. Do not slow play in Low Limit Hold'em. With some exceptions, in low limit poker games, usually slow play doesn't pay. Your opposition usually will fold or play somewhat regardless of what you do-so when you have a strong hand, play its worth from the start.

3. Milking your 4-flush. Always remember in Hold'em that when you have 2 pocket cards the same suit-and exactly 2 more of that suit hit the flop-and if you hold a face card­-and if there is little sign of someone building a house or better-then you already know that on average, you will win approximately half the time. This means that if only you can keep 2 or more opponents in such a poker game, on that flop you should try to pile the bets to the ceiling.

4. Cooling your 4-flush on the turn. So you bet high on the flop hoping to complete a face-high flush-then on the turn, it does not come. Here is where you want to keep the bets low, your chances are no longer about 50%, but more like 25%. In No-Limit or Pot Limit, you may even want to fold if there is only one opponent and he is making extreme bets-conversely however, you cannot reveal this reluctance, but must bet something semi-substantial if you have early position.

5. Cooling your faceless flush. If one of your two-of-a-suit in the pocket is not a face card, then if two more of your suit hit the flop, you certainly want to stay in the game but keep it cheap. All too often, someone else is betting for the same flush and with a higher kicker.

6. Cooling your over-flush. Here again you have two-of-a-suit-but instead of two more hitting the flop, you get three-a made flush. A dream come true? Maybe, but if another of your suit hits, and if you do not hold an Ace, this dream is a nightmare. At a full low-limit table, the chances are very high that someone has the Ace of that suit and is clinging to it. It is for the 4-flush holder to bet high on the flop and not on the turn-it is for the 5-flush holder to bet high on the turn, and not before.

7. Spotting the flush play. If it is a full table and nobody bet high on the blind-and then somebody wants to raise the flop-consider folding as soon as you see three-of-a-suit on the board, even if you have a made straight. A flush is very likely.

Picture of poker game in Las Vegas

Spotting the Best Online Poker Rooms

As implied in several sections above, the most basic strategy for new online poker players is "table-hopping," a.k.a., leave when you are losing. However the following pointers also may direct you to the best games from the start.

1. PlanetPoker.com is the place for rank beginners. Here firstly you will find free games that are not too bad, as free games go. Then when you feel ready for the real thing, you can start with limits as low as 10¢.

2. Generally prefer that your level be the lowest level. I.e., if you want to play $2 games, your chances may be better at a poker room that does not have 50¢ games. This is because, if the lowest level available is 50¢, then 50¢ tables are where the worst players are likely to go-the ones that you want to play. This leaves only the half-decent or better players at the $2 games-the ones you do not want to play. I.e., PlanetPoker.com is great for 10¢-50¢ beginners and perhaps fine for seasoned $5-$10 players, but probably is not the best place for intermediate $2 games!

Beware of over-popular online poker rooms ParadisePoker.com is the most popular card room on the Internet, and many players do very well there, but not I. Is there something funny going on? No, in fact I had great luck for a while at their excellent single-table tournament games, and also I suspect that their Omaha Hi-Lo and their No Limit Hold'em games can be real winners for the right players. However the unfortunate dilemma is, any card room that is so well-designed and well-run, just is bound to attract all the best players...

Boldly go where no mouse has gone before... I.e., do not be afraid to try out the new, the small, the ugly and the small online poker rooms. The very fact that these places have few players means most of these players are either good or not good. So when you stumble on a new poker room full of poor players-stick to it like glue. Just don't get too nostalgic. As soon as you start losing, you may need to move on to another online poker room, probably the place has been "discovered" by the good players.